Several villages in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific were completely destroyed by a tsunami on Monday, the chairman of the National Disaster Council said. "Some villages are completely wiped out," Fred Fakari told journalists in the capital Honiara.
He said there had been unconfirmed reports of two deaths but that information on the extent of the damage caused by the tsunami, which followed a powerful 8.0 magnitude earthquake, remained sketchy.
The disaster council decided not to declare a state of emergency following a meeting because of the lack of information, Fakari said.
The council was to meet again on Monday to reassess the situation, he added.
Phone lines and electricity were down in the Western Province capital of Gizo, which was just 45 kilometres from the centre of the quake, hampering efforts to find out the extent of the damage.
There was still no idea about damage or casualties in more isolated areas in the west, he said. A Solomons government patrol boat was being sent from Honiara to assess the situation.
The tsunami pounded the west of the country, inundating Gizo and villages in the region, local reports said.
The quake struck at 7:40 am local time (0210 IST) and was centred about 350 kilometres west-northwest of the capital Honiara at a depth of 10 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.
A series of aftershocks, with a magnitude of up to 6.